Braves considering alternatives to Dan Uggla at second base

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The struggling Dan Uggla has started just five out of the last nine games at second base for the Braves and Mark Bowman of MLB.com hears that the club will continue to look at alternatives at the position.

While the Braves “have moved away from the thought” of releasing Uggla, they are expected to give playing time to Ramiro Pena and Tyler Pastornicky in the next couple of weeks. From there, they could promote prospect infielder Tommy La Stella, who is hitting .306/.368/.333 with a 9/12 K/BB ratio over 30 games at Triple-A Gwinnett. Interestingly, Bowman writes that some of the team’s veteran players would rather see Pastornicky get a chance to run away with the job.

Uggla is batting just .180/.297/.345 over 164 games since the start of last season and is still owed $24 million through the end of 2015. The Braves apparently aren’t comfortable with eating his remaining salary in order to turn the page, but something might have to give soon.

Another interestingly named player is promoted by the Pirates

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When you promote a player from the minors, the first and foremost consideration is whether or not he can help your ball club. But, assuming that’s taken care of, teams should really, really make it a priority to call up dudes with cool sounding names because it makes life more interesting for the rest of us.

The Pirates are doing that. The other night Dovydas Neverauskas made his big league debut. In addition to being the first Lithuanian born-and-raised player in major league history, it’s a solid, solid name. Now the Pirates are making another promotion: Gift Ngoepe.

Yep, Gift Ngoepe. He’s an infielder from South Africa, making the leap to the bigs due to David Freese‘s hamstring injury. Ngoepe, 27, was batting just .241/.308/.379 through 66 plate appearances this season with Triple-A Indianapolis, his ninth in the minors, so he’s not exactly a prospect. But man, that’s a killer name.

It’s also worth mentioning that Gift and Neverauskas were arrested together in a bar fight last August in Toledo, so there is already a good basis for some bonding here.

Good luck, Gift. Gift Ngoepe. Mr. Ngoepe. G-Ngo. Man, I could do this all day.

Manny Machado teaches us to never give up

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The Rays beat the Orioles last night, but the play of the game belonged to an Oriole defender.

Evan Longoria was batting and he chopped a ball foul down the third base line. At least it started out foul. As we all know, however, it doesn’t matter where the ball starts, it matters where it is when it crosses the bag.

Manny Machado knows this and didn’t give up on the ball despite it starting several feet in foul territory. He watched it come back, stayed with it and threw out Longoria who, unlike Machado, did give up on it, assuming he’d merely get a strike and another hack. Watch:

Longoria would get Machado back, however, fielding a ball Machado smoked to third base in the ninth inning, recording the second to last out of the game.